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Two in a row?: Vandy, Georgia have similar goals

Photo by Daniel Kay

Photo by Daniel Kay

ATHENS -- Cheer up, Georgia fans. There's a new pup in town.

Big Bad Bruce is coming to the rescue.

Uga VIII, the latest in Georgia's line of pure English bulldog mascots, will be introduced before today's SEC game against Vanderbilt.

The 13-month-old dog's registered name is Big Bad Bruce. He takes over for the interim mascot, Russ, whose mostly disappointing 2010 reign ended on a high note.

Georgia (2-4 overall, 1-3 SEC) will be without one of its top players against the Commodores (2-3, 1-1). Tailback Caleb King was suspended for two games this week following his arrest for failing to pay a speeding ticket.

Georgia snapped a four-game losing streak with last week's 41-14 win over Tennessee.

"Really, we knew all along that we're a good team," said receiver Tavarres King this week. "We just had a bunch of moments that hurt us at the end of every game. We knew that we were right there. This game confirmed that we're a good team and we can play with anybody."

The Bulldogs will be looking for their first two-game winning streak of the season.

Similarly, Vanderbilt is hoping to gain momentum from scoring its most points in 11 years in last week's lopsided 52-6 win over Eastern Michigan.

Vanderbilt coach Robbie Caldwell said he is glad to see Georgia "get on track" but complained the Bulldogs always seem to get well just in time to play the Commodores.

"It always seems to be at the wrong time," Caldwell said. "They played extremely well Saturday, of course. ... They look like they're getting to full strength. It's going to be quite a task for us."

Georgia has won 14 of the last 15 games in the series. Vanderbilt's only win over Georgia in that span was a 24-22 victory in Athens in 2006.

Georgia coach Mark Richt can't afford another home loss to Vanderbilt. Richt won 90 games and two SEC championships in his first nine seasons at Georgia, but his 10th year has been rocky on an off the field.

Caleb King's arrest was the 11th of the year for the program.

Richt faced increased criticism after four straight losses to South Carolina, Arkansas, Mississippi State and Colorado. The win over Tennessee was important for the coach and his team.

"It's our job now to hopefully build off of the momentum that we've created with last week's victory," Richt said. "I think when you lose games people tend to think that everything is going wrong and not much is going right. Then when you win games maybe they think everything is going right and not much is going wrong.

"I think as we were going through that losing streak we were improving in a lot of areas. We just didn't finish really like we should."

Georgia needs a strong game from tailback Washaun Ealey, who has been held under 40 yards rushing in each of the last three games. Freshman tailback Ken Malcome could make his season debut.

Georgia's top threat is junior receiver A.J. Green, who has 13 catches for 215 yards and three touchdowns in two games after he served an NCAA suspension the first four games.

Freshman quarterback Aaron Murray ran for two touchdowns and passed for two touchdowns against Tennessee.

"Their quarterback's playing extremely well I think, and now they've got the big boy (Green) back and they fling it down there," Caldwell said. "He's hard to stop so we're going to have to come up with quite a plan to be able to slow that down."

Warren Norman, the 2009 SEC freshman of the year from Stone Mountain, Ga., had 75 yards rushing with two touchdowns in Vandy's win against Eastern Michigan last week.

Norman is one of 22 Vanderbilt players, including eight probable starters, from the state of Georgia. The total would have been 23, but running back Rajaan Bennett of McEachern High in Powder Springs was shot to death in February after signing with Vanderbilt.

Vanderbilt linebacker Chris Marve, who has more than 100 tackles each of the last two years, appears likely to play after missing last week's game with a knee injury, ending his streak of 29 straight starts. He practiced Wednesday and Thursday.